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How you and your business can thrive in 2019

THROUGHOUT 2018, we here at The Voice and our readers across the UK celebrated many incredible business successes. We published exclusive interviews with leading black businesses including Bespoke Binny, B’s Bookkeeping and Action Coach Asari St-Hill - just a few of the thriving startups that continue to pave the way for future entrepreneurs.

We also covered plenty of ways blooming business minds could achieve success, from investing to visiting black business fairs (which we even hosted!)

Today, we’re going to be giving more advice on how you and your business can thrive. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the big question: How can businesses merge offline and online presences to become one single successful company?

Online shopping and in-store experiences

The number of consumers and customers that look to the internet to fulfil their needs continues to grow, and the high street is struggling more than ever. Just look at the stats from last year’s Black Friday sales in the US: digital revenue grew by a whopping 23% since 2017 to $6.22 billion, while high street sales fell to lows of 4 – 7% between Thanksgiving and Black Friday. These figures represent a worldwide problem many brick-and-mortar businesses are experiencing right now - so how can we fix the issue?

Our suggestion is that shops should consider merging the online and offline presences by offering online shopping with a collect in-store option. Customers hate not knowing when their package will be delivered, so businesses like Argos, Next and Marks & Spencer’s have solved the problem and increased in-store footfall by offering in-store collection for free. Half the struggle is getting customers to enter a shop, and with that in the bag all retailers have to do from there is offer more in-store items and experiences that customers may be enticed by.

Real world authenticity in an online world

Despite what the stats may suggest, online businesses don’t just achieve success without hard work. With every passing day more services and retailers pop up on the web competing to gain customers, and many of those online businesses lack connections to real-world experiences. For example, online shops do not allow you to touch or try on their clothes before purchasing them and God help you if you try to order paint online – not once has it ever been the same shade in the pictures.
Arguably the first online-centric sector to combat this problem was iGaming, which is somehow ironic. iGaming is a term used for casinos, bingo sites and other wagering services available online.

At first, casinos offered digital versions of poker, blackjack and other table games but it soon became clear that players wanted a more authentic experience. Now, all the big online casino brands offer at least a few live casino games, which allow players to get the full casino experience all while playing online. Live casino has been incredibly successful, and so we suggest that future business owners attempt to create real-world experiences online in similar ways. Perhaps e-commerce sites could publish videos or use tech such as virtual reality to really merge the online and offline worlds.

Very rarely do solely online or solely offline businesses make it in the modern world. There’s simply too much competition and too much for customers to choose from, which is why most successful companies now choose to balance both online and offline worlds to achieve success.

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